New Balance Minimus TR Review
Cons: Gym-specific, lack of natural feel, difficult upper design
Manufacturer: New Balance
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|Pros||Remarkably lightweight, cushy, good transition potential||Super flexible, amazing feedback, spacious fit, breathable, optional insole||Superlight, exceptional natural feel, flexible, affordable||Super low-profile sole, comfortably padded, designed for durability||Tough exterior, stable, snug lacing system|
|Cons||Gym-specific, lack of natural feel, difficult upper design||Heavier than most, potential durability issues, short laces||Diminished grip off-road, confining stretch collar, bulky laces||Tapered toe box is a bit restrictive, traction is compromised by dirt, lack of versatility||Odd flex pattern, decreased sensitivity, lack of dexterity in toes|
|Bottom Line||Part streetwear, part minimalist trainer, these kicks are as lightweight as they are fly||From its airy fit to its free range of motion, this barefoot shoe offers the best in lightweight running performance||A barefoot trainer that continues to define the category, this shoe’s ultra-thin outsole helps deliver superior natural feel||An incredibly thin outsole, supportive padding, and reinforced sidewalls make this an ideal barefoot gym trainer||Run in comfort and confidence in this tank of a FiveFinger shoe|
|Rating Categories||New Balance Minimus TR||Xero Shoes HFS||Merrell Vapor Glove 5||Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3||Vibram V-Trail 2.0|
|Natural Feel (40%)|
|Specs||New Balance Minimus TR||Xero Shoes HFS||Merrell Vapor Glove 5||Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3||Vibram V-Trail 2.0|
|Best For||Gym||Road Running||Road Running||Gym||Trail Running|
|Stack Height||Undisclosed||5.5 mm (w/o insole)||6.5 mm||1.5 mm (w/o insole)||5.7 mm|
|Heel to Toe drop||0 mm||0 mm||0 mm||0 mm||0 mm|
|Weight (per shoe)||7.0 oz (size US 8.5)||7.9 oz (size US 9.5)||5.8 oz (size US 8.5)||6.8 oz (size US 9)||6.9 oz (size EU 42)|
(No Specifics Available)
Vibram Megagrip Rubber
(No Specifics Available)
|None||None||None||2 mm EVA|
(No Specifics Available)
|3 mm High Density EVA||Integrated
4 mm EVA
|3 mm Power Footbed||None|
|Upper Material||Mesh||Mesh and TPU||Mesh and TPU||Mesh and Rope-Tec TPU||3D Cocoon Mesh|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Aside from their retro colorway, the design of the New Balance Minimus TR is actually rooted in science. The unique appearance of both the outsole and upper are patterns derived from reaction-diffusion systems. Perhaps "TR" stands for "Turing" instead of "training." There are vague statements on the product page referring to "reaction-diffusion engineering," but, even upon request, we were unable to gather any further information from the manufacturer about specifications or the engineering behind this minimalist trainer.
The Minimus TR may be considered a conventional trainer with a minimalist twist. The structure is much more traditional, with a thick midsole supported through the middle by a rubber shank for increased stability. The fit is also quite conventional, with a "snug, secure fit" via a full mesh wrap, locked down by spandex-infused laces. To ensure a tight fit, designers opted to stiffly sew the tongue directly into the vamp of the shoe, making it seriously difficult and seriously annoying to pull on.
If anything, the Minimus TR runs on the tight size. If you are hoping for any space for your foot to spread out, we suggest sizing up by about a ½-size (for both EU and US sizes). However, we always suggest that, if possible, you visit your local shop and try these shoes on in person to find your perfect fit.
However, once on, the Minimus TR is surprisingly agile. Despite the thickness of the midsole, the shoe is quite flexible, which combined with the tight fit makes them exceptionally nimble. The balance of flexibility and stability is right on the mark for both dynamic exercises and heavy weight lifting sessions. While it feels more substantial and much less naturally inclined than its barefoot competitors, this lightweight, zero-drop trainer represents a comfortable bridge to a minimalist shoe from more conventional designs on the market.
Tipping the scales at just 7 ounces, the Minimus TR is remarkably lightweight considering its construction. The majority mesh construction gives this glove-like shoe a light and airy feeling, making it a perfect companion for tough, dynamic workouts. Don't be turned off by the relative bulk of its design; this shoe is as breathable as it is nimble.
It's tough to say whether or not the reaction-diffusion-inspired design is actually engineered to improve traction or if it is simply unique in appearance alone. Whatever the reason behind it, these shoes are very tacky on manufactured surfaces — particularly on common gym floors, like tile, rubber mats, or wood parquet. The zero-drop design allows you to apply even pressure through your feet, drawing on your natural tendency to grip. This, combined with the midfoot rubber shank, helps prevent forward and aft movement, which is equally important for weighted dynamic exercises, like kettlebell swings.
This shoe is purposefully built as a gym-specific trainer. But if you are going to run in these shoes, it will certainly be on the road. Again, this is a case where we were happily surprised by the performance of the Minimus TR — the midsole provides a comfortable cushion and seems to rebound for a bit of extra propulsion. It is reasonable to warm up with a jog to the gym, but there is really no way to qualify this as a running shoe. However, it does present an interesting point of intersection between conventional and minimalist designs. If you have been wondering about zero-drop shoes, then the Minimus TR will be a comfortable jump-off point.
Again, considering this shoe through the lens of the gym, it includes all of the right design points to increase longevity. Even under the weight of max-power lifts, the TPU-infused midsole doesn't collapse — instead, it offers substantial rebound. This is further supported by a significant rubber shank, adding reinforcement across the midfoot to keep this shoe from collapsing under pressure. Together, these should act as a system to keep the Minimus TR from breaking down structurally over time. And if you keep these as a gym-specific trainer, then there is no reason for the outsole to wear through.
For those who care for a bit of flair, then the retro-streetwear style of the Minimus TR is worthy of the price tag. Considering their performance in the gym, they can be justified as a worthy investment in your athleticism. But if you need a versatile cross-trainer, then we suggest looking at other options.
For those considering crossing over from conventional to minimalist footwear, the New Balance Minimus TR presents a stylish means of transitioning. This gym-specific trainer is stable and supportive enough for weightlifting yet lightweight and nimble enough for dynamic workouts.
— Aaron Rice
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